Mystical Burlesque (Reading Zohar with Gershom Scholem)

Please take a look at this wonderful blog-essay on Gerschom Scholem’s reading of the mystical vis-a-vis the words he used which combine the ridiculous and the religous. Brilliant reading! Enjoy!

jewish philosophy place


Re-reading Gershom Scholem’s Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (1941) perhaps more systemically than I did many years ago when I read it for the first time. While most of the main lines of argument have been assimilated and critically sifted in Jewish Studies-Jewish thought and culture, what I’m noting for the first time about Scholem’s study relates to Kabbalah as an aesthetic artifact. I’m restring my comments here to his first chapter on the Zohar, although I will note that about Lurianic Kabbalah, he calls “the architecture” of its “mystical structure” “baroque” (p.271).

About the Zohar, I would draw attention to Scholem’s use of the word “fancy,” which appears twice (pp.157, 169) when talking about the Zohar as a “mystical” novel and narrative figures. The term is associated with “delight” and skillful working, and elaborate detail (p.157).

What a weird elaboration. As a platform, Scholem notes how the Zohar builds…

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